The Cat Came Back (but not the very next day)

Last Friday night Richie put Eggnog outside sometime around midnight.  Since it has been warm he has been sleeping outside.  The next day we were gone all day and got in really late.  I wasn’t really concerned that Eggnog hadn’t come around.  Sometimes if we don’t let him in he will go hide where the dogs can’t find him.  Well Sunday came and went and still no Eggnog.  I was starting to worry.  Monday came, tuesday came and then Wednesday.  By Thursday I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that he wasn’t coming back.  In the year and a half I have had him I can only remember one night that he didn’t come home and it was raining really hard.  Yesterday was our last day of school for the year so I was trying to relax and not think about it.  We went out for Pizza at our favorite place to celebrate the end of the school year.  When we came home we built a campfire, made S’mores and hung out in the gazebo.  I went to bed just before 11 and I think Richie came in sometime right around midnight.  I was woken at 12:30 by a meowing at the bedroom window.  I was not expecting Eggnog so I was trying to figure out which of our barn cats was out there and why.  I was still half asleep when Richie shot up and shined a light out the window.  He said, “Is that Eggnog?”  I looked and JUMPED out of the bed and ran out the front door in only my t-shirt and underwear!  I ran around the front of the house and grabbed Eggnog off the window and just squeezed him tight.  Eggnog was gone a whole week almost to the minute! It was like he was stuck in a time warp.  I fed him and got back in bed where I just broke down in tears. I was so happy to have my cat back!  Eggnog curled up on me and we didn’t move the whole night.

Here is Eggnog today sleeping on the bed in the guest room.  This is his favorite place to nap.

(don’t look at how gross the pillow is! The sheets were in the wash!)
He looks so tired from his week long adventure.

This morning I also finally got my front garden planted.

You can also see how nice our new windows look in this picture.

Treasures in the Button Box

I was recently given a button box.  The woman who gave it to me is older and the box came from her husbands mother who passed away several years ago.  The box of buttons sat around for a few months and only recently was I able to go through it.  The majority of the buttons are very old and interesting but a few really special ones stood out.

These are a few of my favorites.

These buttons all have some type of military insignia.  The top one is a Red Cross Pin dated 1881-1931 marking the 50th anniversary of the Red Cross.

The U.S actually has a screw back on it but I assume it is part of a military uniform from the 1930′s.

The one on the right is an eagle with what looks like the number 1 on his chest.  He holds the leaf cluster in his left foot and 3 arrows in his right foot. It has a shank type backing. Again I believe it is part of a military uniform from the 1930′s.

These buttons are interesting.  All five are VERY heavy.  I wish I had a gram scale so I could weigh them.  I am not sure if they are made of metal or stone because of the weight and they are so dirty but I am leaning towards metal.

The gold button in the top right also has an Eagle on it but has the letters Buro Co Tyr 1780 X Archid Avst Dcx and as far I can tell it is some sort of replica of a Maria Theresia, Austrian coin.  I have no idea how old it is.

The Yeomen pin apparently came from the secret fraternal organization the Brotherhood of American Yeomen that was started in 1897.

The Health Standard pin button has the shape of Arkansas in the background.

This pin button has some sort of structure surrounded by the leaves.  It is very cracked and I can not make out what the structure is.  The back is partially rubbed off but the letters  STEM(?)ER Engra_______80!

One other really cool thing in the box was an old Rabies Dog Tag.  The back is dated 1935.

I have enjoyed looking through this old button box!  If you know anything about any of my finds please leave a comment.

My "new" Kitchen!

I am so happy! My “new” kitchen is finally done!  Two weeks ago we had all new windows put in the house.  The old windows were so bad you couldn’t even see out of them.  I still get caught by surprise everytime I walk into the living room and realize I can see outside.  At the same time that we ordered the windows we also ordered new kitchen counters, a sink and a new faucet.  Well today they were installed! When I came home from work today I had a beautiful new kitchen!  Here are the pics!

Here is a closeup of what the counter looks like. It is a little hard to tell in the other pictures.

And of course it is always fun to have a side-by-side before and after.  Picture 1 was taken 8 years ago probably almost to the day.  Picture 2 was taken this evening. I think it FINALLY looks amazing!

 

Meet the Girls!

I am now the proud owner of four beautiful Buff Orpingtons!  I have two that are about 16 weeks and should start laying soon.  The other two are about 6 weeks of age and wont start laying until the end of the summer.  I have several names picked out but I need to study their personalities a little more before I settle on anything. I’ll let you know.  Here are some pictures of the girls!

The dogs seem pretty curious.  If I am not outside they leave them alone but if I walk out to the coop the dogs act like it is Christmas! Lily lay there for about 30 minutes just watching them.  Hopefully they don’t decide to eat them!

 

I am also having a contest!  I am looking for a name for my Hen House.  I’d like to paint the name on the side.  The winner will also get a chicken related prize!  If you would like to enter the contest just leave a  comment with your suggestion for a hen house name.  Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. The contest will end at 4:00 Central Time on May 14th.

First Monday Finds

First Monday is an amazing craft/flea/junk market that is held year round on the weekend of the first Monday of each month in Canton, Texas.  First Monday Trade Days is a tradition that “began in the 1850s when the District Judge stopped in Canton on the first Monday of every month to hold court sessions, many brought goods, produce, and livestock with them to buy, sell or trade. By 1965, First Monday had outgrown the downtown square and was moved to six acres just two blocks north of the courthouse. What started by chance more than a century ago in an event you must experience to believe! Now, First Monday Trade Days hosts up to 7,000 vendors and as many as 300,000 visitors.” (Excerpted from www.firstmondaycanton.com)

Last weekend my mother-in-law and her best friend Judy took a trip to Canton to attend the event.  My husband and I were unable to go because of a prior commitment last Saturday so I sent Kathy and Judy with a list of things I was looking for.  I love any type of old kitchen, garden or farm related stuff.  When they cam back they brought me some amazing treasures!


Here is ALL my loot!


This is a “dummy” egg.  It can be used to help encourage new layers to lay there eggs in the nest boxes rather than on the ground.


An old chicken waterer with a galvanized bottom.


These are pretty cool! I have never seen them before.  They are chicken waterers crafted from glass! They fit a standard mason jar just perfectly! What a steal at 50 cents a piece!

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This is a glass, one-gallon waterer with a plastic basin.


This is a really good sized galvanized watering can.  I have been looking for one of these for quite some time so I was very excited about this!


This is my FAVORITE find! Although I am pretty sure it is a reproduction I still love it! It is a Dazey Butter Churn!  I have wanted one of these for AGES!  I get raw milk from a friend and make my own butter.  This is really gonna come in handy!

Hopefully Richie and I will get a chance to go to First Monday in July.  Thanks Kathy and Judy for your great shopping skills!!!!

Furry and Feathered Friends

The week 6 topic of the Farmgirl Blog-A-Thon is “Furry and Feathered Friends”!  I love my furry and feathered friends!  My dogs and cats are like my children!

My love for animals began when I was a small child!  As a little girl my parents had a cat named Tycoon.  I don’t remember her a bit except from pictures but Mom and Dad always talked like she was a really special cat.

Once my sister came along and we got a little older we got a dog named Scruffy.  Eventually Scruffy went to “stay at the farm” and we missed him.

We went on to have pet birds and fish. All staying with us varying amounts of time.  One rainy and cold evening a little gray cat wandered up on to the back porch.  My sister and I begged and begged dad to let us keep her.  Finally he caved and we got to keep the cat we named Precious.  Precious even made the move to Vermont with us and lived happily wandering our seven acres until about the time I got ready to go to college when she went to “Kitty heaven”.

In 1990 my sister and I convinced mom and dad that it was time to get a new dog.  On January 10th, 1990, Brandy was born and shortly after she came to live with us.  Brandy was the first dog I really fell in love with. Brandy lived about 14 years and my parents finally had to have her put down.  I was already married and moved away but it was still a terrible heartbreak when she died.

Living on our “farm” here in Arkansas I have had so many pets I can’t even count or remember them!  We have had tons of cats over the years.  5 of the pet dogs we have had have since died.  Currently we have 3 horses, 4 dogs, 4 cats and 5 kittens.

Here are a few pictures of the “kids” that I haven’t posted before.

Hagrid

Kensi

Obama and BB

Lily

Eggnog (In a box?!)

Eggnog (In another, different box)

Thunder, Lily and Eggnog

I love my pets!  I am getting my chicken on Saturday! So be watching for some pics of my new feathered friends!

To learn more about the Farmgirl Blog-a-Thon please check out http://gardengoose.blogspot.com/.

To learn more about being a Farmgirl please check out www.maryjanesfarm.org.

BE SURE TO VISIT THESE FARM GIRL BLOGS!!

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Getting Crafty (The Chicken Tractor is Done!)

The week 5 topic of the Farmgirl Blog-a-thon is “getting crafty”.  I am all about crafty but something always seems to happen during the months of April and May and I do VERY LITTLE crafting!  Maybe it is because things get so hectic at school, maybe it is because it is warmer and I spend more time outside.  Last night was the first night I came inside before 8:30 PM and that was only because it was raining!

Of course I have my own crafting “business” through my website www.willowtreecreek.com.  I make a variety of different things for that.  I also make and sell Wine Glass Charms to the Orchard House Bed and Breakfast in Lovingston, VA! (In light of full disclosure I should mention that the Orchard House is owned and operated by my parents!)

Last summer I was filmed for an episode of “That’s Clever” for HGTV.  The episode will air sometime in 2009!  I made a toy tote and an MP3 player cover for the show.

I teach K-12 art so I am constantly doing “Crafty” things at school.  My second graders are in the process of making Chilean Rainsticks right now as part of our year long look at “Art Around the World”.

Personally, 2 projects have been consuming my life in the last few months and I guess they fall under the category of “getting crafty.”

Project #1 – Prom “Lost in Paradise”

As Junior class sponsor one of my duties is to help the students prepare for the prom.  That includes decorating and as the art teacher often includes MAKING decorations!  Most of March and part of April was consumed with building things for Prom.  Our theme was “Lost in Paradise” and the dance, along with a dinner baquet, was held in our school cafeteria.  Here are some pictures of the things we made.

In this picture is the “Tiki Hut”. I designed it and the Agri Classes actually put it together.  We painted it and added the grass skirts to the top.  The plants at the bottom came in a kit but had to be assembled.  I painted 2008 and the Hibiscus on the window in the background.  One of the Juniors boyfriends made the surfboard.  The little swimming pool held the drinks.

In this picture you can see the beautifully decorated tables.  Each setting had a brightly colored imprinted napkin, a program which I designed on my computer and a little tropical umbrella.  Each chair had a flower lei draped over it.  I the center of each table were candles and little fish bowls with real live goldfish!

The waterfall kit was a pain to put together. It took a team of about 6 of us over 5 hours to assemble!  You can see more of the grass kits in this picture as well as one of the four palm tree kits we built!

As the students came in they crossed over the “swinging” bridge.

Flowing from the waterfall was this river.  It snaked across the cafeteria floor.  We even added real rocks to the water!  The Prom was REALLY nice but was quite an undertaking!  I was very thankful to the 6 kids that actually showed up to help decorate!

Project #2 – Chicken Tractor

I have been wanting to get chickens for a while. I finally convinced my husband it would be cool and set out to build a chicken tractor.  A chicken tractor is a movable chicken coop and hen house.  It allows the birds to be “free range” while still confining them enough to protect them from predators (like my dogs!).

I built the chicken tractor almost completely by myself! I drafted my own design and then purchased all the supplies.  I measured all the pieces.  Learned how to use a skill saw and then put the whole thing together!  My mother in law nailed the roof on the hen house because I hit my thumb with the hammer on the first try and got “gun shy” after that!  The rest was done by ME!!! I am really proud of myself!  All that I have left to do is paint the hen house, build a roost and get the chickens!

To learn more about the Farmgirl Blog-a-Thon please check out http://gardengoose.blogspot.com/.

To learn more about being a Farmgirl please check out www.maryjanesfarm.org.

BE SURE TO VISIT THESE FARM GIRL BLOGS!!

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In The Garden

Gardening is one thing I would really like to learn more about and get more involved in.  I have had a vegetable garden a few times but when I went back to school to get my masters degree I couldn’t find the time to keep it up.  This year I am pledging to get back into it.  I am spending this summer and fall preparing a garden plot for next years garden.  I will be planting a few tomato plants as well as doing some potted herbs this summer to tide me over.

Eventually I would like to plant enough fruit and veggies over the summer months and learn to can so I am able to preserve the bounty for use during the winter months.  I am taking it one step at a time though.  Here are some of the carrots I grew a few years ago.

Last year I finally took time to put in a flower bed in the front of my house.  I planted rosemary, lavender, sunflowers and a Chinese wisteria.  I have another lavender plant ready to go into it this year.

Here is how it looked last June.

Here is how it looked at the end of July.

Sunflowers in Bloom last August!

I need to do some work in the bed this year.  The edging needs to be backed up about 6 inches because of where the water drains off the roof.  I need to add a few more bags of soil and some compost to the beds because of water runoff and I need to add some wood mulch.  This is how the bed looked this morning:

My lavender plant looks like it is just about ready to put out some flowers! I am so excited!

To learn more about the Farmgirl Blog-a-Thon please check out http://gardengoose.blogspot.com/.

To learn more about being a Farmgirl please check out www.maryjanesfarm.org.

BE SURE TO VISIT THESE FARM GIRL BLOGS!!

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Domestic Bliss/Farm Kitchen

Let me begin by telling you about my space.  My kitchen has been a work in progress for the last 8 years!  When we first moved in it was AWFUL!  Old appliances, broken cabinet draws, UGLY linolum flooring that was stained, torn, bubbled and just missing in some places!

The “renovation” began with the replacement of the refridgerator.  The first year we were married we had an old used fridge that was only held shut by propping 2 – 12 packs of sodas in front of it.  Our first large purchase as a couple was a $1,000 fridge from Sears.  It took us nearly a year to pay that thing off!

A few years later the dishwasher went!  Now the term “domestic bliss” is sortof an oxymoron to me and I am certainly no “domestic goddess”.  Housework is NOT my middle name!  The thought of life without a dishwasher was very frightening! So we trucked over to Best Buy and got a great deal on a “floor model” dishwasher.

The first summer after I started teaching, I got bored. (WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!)  So I decided it would be fun to paint all the kitchen cabinets. (Again, what was I thinking!) The existing cabinets were a medium to dark wood finish.  I decided I wanted to go to a very light sage green sort of color.  Well that ment that 20 years of grime had to be washed off first.  Then all the cabinets needed sanding.  Then primer.  And finally paint!  I also decided to put in new hardware! So all the hardware had to be affixed and the doors all put back in place.  But I am happy I did it because the kitchen feels much roomier and brighter.

Next came the microwave.  We had had a counter top microwave for years.  I’d been eyeing an over the stove model for sometime and we finally splurged! So I ripped out the old hood and installed the new microwave ALL BY MYSELF!  Yup, that’s right! My husband isn’t exactly the most handy guy in the world!

Then we got the bug to replace all the flooring in the house! Out came the nasty linolum and down went wood laminate floors! They are beautiful and SOOOOO easy to clean!

This Christmas I was finally able to replace my old broken stove with a new 5 burner that I wrote about a few months ago.  I was actually satisfied with my kitchen finally.  Don’t get me wrong! It is NOT my dream kitchen but it’s the one I have and I was finally at a place where I felt happy with it.

Then…back in March my husband was looking to put new windows in the house.  This was another project we had been planning for years.  We were at the store and Richie led me over to the kitchen section.  He told me we could afford a new counter as well and to pick out whatever I wanted!!!!! YEAH!!! So my new counter, sink and faucet have been ordered!  They are set to be installed in about 2 weeks! I can’t wait!

I don’t have any pictures right now but I will put some before and afters when the remodel is done!

Here is one of my most favorite recipes.  I have posted it on my site before but it is worth revisiting! It is perfect for using up that farm fresh milk and eggs that are in the fridge!

Dark Chocolate Mousse
Courtesy of Bobby Flay
Copied from www.foodtv.com


Picture taken from www.foodtv.com

5 1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
14 ounces cold heavy cream
3 large egg whites
1-ounce sugar
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish, optional
Shaved bittersweet chocolate, for garnish, optional

 

Place chocolate in a large bowl set over a bain marie or in a double boiler at a low simmer. Stir chocolate until melted. Turn off the heat and let stand.

Beat the cream over ice until it forms soft peaks. Set aside and hold at room temperature. With a mixer, whip egg to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and continue whipping until firm.

Remove the chocolate from the bain marie and using a whisk, fold in the egg whites all at once. When the whites are almost completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream. Cover the mousse and refrigerate for approximately 1 hour or until set. Serve in goblets topped with more whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.

 

To learn more about the Farmgirl Blog-a-thon please visit http://gardengoose.blogspot.com.

To learn more about being a Farmgirl please visit www.maryjanesfarm.org.

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